A man pulled out a large-caliber pistol in front of dozens of witnesses Sunday morning during a fight with another customer inside a Publix, Palm Bay police said.
The alleged gunman, Derek Dimsey, 31, was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, reckless display of a firearm and aggravated assault, Palm Bay police spokeswoman Yvonne Martinez told Local 6 News partner Florida Today.
His alleged assailant, Kenny Mercado Sr., 50, faces charges of battery and disorderly conduct.
Just before 11 a.m. at the Bayside Lakes Boulevard store, Martinez said the men — who did not know each other — made “an incidental contact” that triggered a loud verbal exchange.
That’s when Mercado punched Dimsey, police said.
Dimsey responded by pointing a pistol at Mercado, Martinez said. Mercado raised his hands and fled to the next aisle, and Dimsey allegedly pointed the weapon at several people.
Publix employees separated the men and convinced Dimsey to put the gun away, reports show.
Police arrived, secured the scene and arrested both suspects, who were transported to the Brevard County Jail. No injuries were reported, and investigators are considering additional charges.
“Florida Statutes Chapter 776 authorizes anyone the right to defend themselves when presented with unlawful force. However, the response by the defender must be reasonable,” Deputy Chief John Blackledge stated in a news release.
“The law does not allow for the presentation of deadly force in every situation. It is certainly not justified as the response to a simple punch. The use of deadly force requires a much greater presentation of force than what was presented in this incident,” Blackledge said.